Tuesday, May 4, 2010

CA - Sex Offender Speaks Out

Original Article

04/30/2010

By Natalie Brand

We showed you how local law enforcement tracks sex offenders in Valley neighborhoods, in a KPSP Local 2 special feature Thursday. Now, we're hearing from a side we don't normally hear from, a registered offender who says not all offenders should be treated the same.

"What bothers me the most is everyone is lumped into one category," said the offender, we'll identify as "John." "I think people should have a chance to show their worth." He continues, "I'm a productive member of society. I have a job. I own this house."

John didn't want to talk about his offense, listed on the Megan's Law website as a lewd or lascivious act with a child under 14 years. He says it was committed twenty years ago, when he was 27. "I was a heroin addict...made a mistake I really don't remember."

Now sober, John says treatment and structure have helped him and says he's never reoffended. Psychologists say predicting recidivism is difficult. "I can't speak for others," said John. "My opinion would be, "yes," there are some triggers. I do believe there are some sexual predators out there that need to be watched. I agree with that 100%, but not everyone does."

And even with the strictest of supervision, John admits, it's difficult to stop a predator. "If somebody is still going to reoffend, they will cut their GPS system off and leave." John adds, "I think reoffense should have a much stronger penalty. I agree with that."

While John agrees offenders need to register, he says being on the Megan's Law website creates a potential danger. "The biggest fear...for everybody is how many people are going to shoot us."

As for protecting the community, a dad himself, John says parents must play the biggest role in keeping their children safe.


AL - ICE agents arrest 596 suspects

Original Article

You will notice in the video below, out of all 596 suspects, they pick the ONE sex offender to put on video.

05/04/2010

HUNTSVILLE - Operation Cross Check is the largest ICE operation ever carried out in the Southeast. 596 arrests were made in nine states at the end of April.
- And out of all these people, only ONE sex offender.

On April 30th, 400 federal and local law enforcement officers went to suspects' homes. The suspects are not just accused of being in this country illegally. Many have committed serious crimes. One man arrested in Huntsville was a sex offender convicted of trying to entice a child.

Not every stop ended with an arrest. Ice agents said they're in a race against time.




CA - Downsizing the prison-industrial complex


Original Article

05/04/2010

By Cathy Cockrell

California's obsession with incarceration — at $50K a year per adult, $250K per juvenile — is unsustainable, says criminologist Barry Krisberg

BERKELEYBarry Krisberg joined Berkeley Law's Center for Criminal Justice in January as a distinguished senior fellow and lecturer-in-residence. A well-known researcher and advocate for juvenile-justice reform, he served as president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for more than 25 years (1983-2009). Krisberg has been tapped by state governments and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and monitor aspects of the correctional system. He led the 2003 investigation in California of what is now the Division of Juvenile Justice. After the panel issued a devastating report, Krisberg was asked to help monitor state compliance with the resulting consent decree, a role he continues to play today.

Q. The public mood on crime and punishment appears to go in cycles. Where would you say we are today?

A. We're actually in a good place at the moment, I think. Crime is way down nationally and in California, and there isn't support for building new prisons or expanding corrections. Recent opinion polls show that the public opposes most cuts in public spending, but does support reductions in prison budgets. Our terrible financial crisis may be giving rise to smarter policies.

For juvenile justice, it's an interesting time. Both nationwide and on the state level, the number of kids (ages 12 to 18) who are locked up is substantially down. In 2004 there were roughly 7,000 inmates in California's youth prisons; now there are about 1,400. There are fewer than 800 youth locked up in New York State today. Most of the major states are reducing the number of kids in custody.

Q. Is that because there are fewer kids in trouble? Or are the states coming up with alternatives to incarceration?

A. Fewer kids are being arrested, but also states are relying less on residential care and more on home-based alternatives — keeping kids at home with their families. Part of that is fiscal imperative: in California it now costs about $250,000 a year to lock up a young person in a youth prison. Around the country the figure is in the range of $175,000 to $200,000 a year.

Q. Which in either case is considerably more than for an adult prisoner.

A. Way more. In California we spend about $50,000 a year per adult; it costs about five times more to keep a youth in 24/7 residential care, and about $75,000 a year to put a youth in a group foster home. Public officials who are trying to reduce huge budget deficits are now asking "what could we buy for a family for $50,000 a year?" If we were to help pay for therapy, counseling, rent — what is called "wrap-around services" — could we get better results for less money?

Litigation challenging the constitutionality and lawfulness of adult and juvenile corrections has increased significantly; the legal pressure is forcing change. In juvenile settings, there's additional law to hang your hat on. If I go into a youth prison as part of an investigation, I can ask a whole series of questions. Are the youth getting mental-health and special-education services? Are they getting tested and diagnosed? Are they getting basic education that all students are entitled to? The courts have decided that youth under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court have a right to treatment and rehabilitation. You can operate an adult prison system where the sole purpose is punishment. But the legal standards for youth are much higher in terms of humane care.

Q. In trying to rethink crime policy, isn't part of the challenge that the public conversation about crime is so charged?

A. Extremely charged. The last time this country had a rough consensus on criminal-justice policy was probably the late '60s. On President Lyndon Johnson's crime commission you still had Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, essentially agreeing on what reform should look like. But then Barry Goldwater began campaigning on a promise to restore law and order. Use of the crime issue to fuel political campaigns became especially important in California, where Ronald Reagan and Ed Meese deeply politicized criminal justice. Almost every aspect of California politics has been dominated, for 40 years, by fear about crime and allegations that the "other candidate" is too soft on crime.

Crime is an issue where there's a lot of money at stake — around the country, $100 billion a year is spent on criminal justice — and one where it's easy to push fear buttons. That's why it's so important for universities to feed factual information into the public conversation — so that people understand what's true and not true, as opposed to exaggerations propagated often by the media.

Q. You were involved in the case in which a panel of federal judges ordered California to reduce its adult prison population by 40,000. What do prisoners need in order to successfully re-enter society?

A. It's estimated that over a 10-year period, more than 90 percent of our adult California prisoners will be arrested again or be returned to prison or jail. So we're talking about a system that has a huge failure rate. Why do some people stop offending? The research shows that a big factor is employment — to come out and have some financial stability. (And of course that's related to literacy.) Another crucial factor is family connections. Those inmates who stay connected to family members do substantially better upon release. A third is transitional housing. In the last several years we've seen a growth of homelessness among formerly incarcerated people, both adults and youth. Providing housing for the first 90 days after release is critical — making sure that nobody leaves prison with just $200 in their pocket and no place to go.

Q. Hasn't the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation been laying off education and rehabilitation staff — the people who, among other things, help inmates with literacy and job-readiness skills?

A. Yes, and that's very short-sighted. But it speaks to the politics. Lowering the salary of prison guards or reducing the number of law-enforcement people — that's tough because they have powerful unions. It's a lot easier to attack the prison staff who provide education or counseling.

Or what about getting rid of waste and abuse? Our correctional system in California is a hugely bloated bureaucracy, whose biggest job growth over the last 10 years has been the central office staff in Sacramento — many of them paid a lot more than most UC professors. More than 10 percent of the State General Fund goes to corrections. We spend more taxpayer dollars on prisons than on the University of California and the California State University systems combined. Locking people up is a major enterprise in California, and one that's tough to downsize.

Q. Is California an outlier, in terms of the amount of public resources being funneled into corrections?

A. Yes. Back in 1980 when Jerry Brown was governor, there were about 30,000 people in California prisons, roughly the same as in Texas and New York. So here we are 30 years later: California has more than 170,000 prisoners; New York has about 65,000. We have more prisoners than Texas by a substantial amount. We've built 32 new prisons since the early '80s — and yet they're still jammed to the rafters. There are Southern states with higher rates of incarceration, but there's no state where the numbers of people incarcerated has grown as dramatically in recent years.

It's very important to remember that these high incarceration rates are not related to public safety. New York State over the last 10 years has experienced the largest reduction in crime in the country. Not because it "got tough" on crime by locking up the criminals. It reduced its prison population during that time, and has a much lower imprisonment rate than California. The California county that has seen the most significant decline in crime in the past decade has been San Diego — which has a very low incarceration rate compared to other counties. It's been sending fewer people to prison, not more. Some believe that if we send more people to prison, we're safer. It's just not true.

Q. What drives incarceration rates, if not crime?

A. Laws and policies. It isn't that California has more crime than other places. It's that we have harsher sentences. We keep people longer. We have the highest parole failure rate in the country — meaning we send a huge number of parolees back to prison for violating the rules of parole, not for new crimes. Other states use community-based options for parolees who miss appointments or fail routine drug tests. California has chosen this unique path of ratcheting up incarceration — way beyond any other state — and it's paying the price.

Q. What would it take for California to reverse course?

A. That's a difficult question, given the politics of this issue, the strong influence of the prison guards' union, and the private prison industry, and the continued dominance of fear-based politics. What's been referred to as a correctional-industrial complex — consisting of prison workers, the people who sell products to prison systems, and the growing private-prison industry — that's a very powerful force. Which makes backing away from our current policy extremely difficult. If tomorrow we were to close five California prisons, they would probably be in rural areas. Local vendors and trades people would be stuck. It would cost those communities an extraordinary amount, going well beyond those who work inside the prisons. In a sense, prisons in California have augmented agriculture as a major part of the rural economy.

Q. We've talked about failed policies. What's your prescription for a better approach to crime?

A. We can't simply arrest our way out of community challenges such as gangs, violent crime, or drug addiction. We need a much more comprehensive approach. Nowadays people are starting to think about a public-health response — treating these issues and behaviors just like we do AIDS or TB or a broad range of contagious diseases. The popular singer Sting is launching a national campaign to call off the war on drugs. That's what we need, for prominent people to step up and say the military-style approach hasn't worked. But not just professors — it's got to be people who have more currency in terms of public opinion.

Q. What is the media's role in shaping public opinion around crime?

A. If we could get more realistic and effective reform themes in the mass media, we would see significant change. I think back to Toni Morrison and her idea of "othering." So much of our criminal-justice policy is driven by othering — magnifying the differences between those people and us, their children and our children. The mass media can help people get past false divisions and stereotypes. There was a very famous and important episode of All in the Family, in which Archie Bunker finds out that the guy he's hired is a parolee. It allowed us to rehearse our own emotions, by watching Archie go from fear to acceptance.

More recently, The Wire was extraordinary in terms of its complex, multilayered understanding of these problems. Law and Order is often very good. But then you've got America's Most Wanted, which exaggerates the amount of child kidnapping, and To Catch a Predator. And Cops — a nightly reality TV show that overwhelmingly reinforces the idea that criminals are black or brown — further feeding the racial fear that undergirds a lot of our criminal-justice policy.

Q. To bring about the changes you advocate, what, in your view, are the most promising avenues?

A. As a reformer I've come to the position what's most promising is to start at the local or community level. If I'm sitting down with the key people in almost any community — the police chief, school superintendent, mayor, health officials — and we're talking about how to reduce violence, we're going to come up with reasonable, pragmatic ideas. The key is to then get state and federal officials to hear and act on the common-sense and research-based ideas coming up from the local level and research community.

Q. What role can the law school play in criminal-justice reform?

A. Criminal-justice reform is a marathon, not a sprint. The struggle for justice has been going on for a long time, and will go on far into the future. So what's critical is to identify the next generation of leaders. When I look out on a classroom here, I'm not only looking at students who are bright, focused, and committed. I'm looking at future judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, governors, and legislators. These students are the ones who are going to fundamentally change things. And they may need to consider completely different approaches to reform than have been tried in the past.

Places like Berkeley Law can serve as catalysts for needed changes — simply by bringing people together to share good information. The law school can serve as a gathering place, where academics and practitioners of diverse opinions and ideas can sit down together and have civil conversations — hopefully rooted in facts and research.

Related information:


Has Megan's Law worked?

Below are two articles by the Daily Record. Both came out on the same day, but by different reporters, and both have different titles. One says "Yes" the other says "No!" So which is it?


So I guess this news agency is taking the safe side by playing both sides, it's a win, win!


U.S. Prosecutor crusades to falsely crucify a man for child porn

Original Article

05/04/2010

_____ was arrested for possession of child pornography. The only problem was that it wasn’t child pornography and any cop or prosecutor with a double-digit IQ should have known that. Unfortunately, anti-sex crusaders have never been known for their intellectual prowess.

The child porn that _____ had in his possession was a video called “Little Lupe the Innocent; Don’t Be Fooled By Her Baby Face.” The movie stared noted film actress Lupe Fuentes.

Despite the fact that it would have been a simple matter to verify the age of the porn star, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenifer Yois Hernandez-Vega proceeded to prosecute _____ based solely on the fact that the star looks under age. Yep, that’s correct. Prosecutor Hernandez-Vega apparently thinks that a guess based on nothing more than appearance trumps the actual fact of her age.

Reading through the story, it’s patently clear that the prosecutor was not the slightest bit interested in justice or the innocence of her target. She was totally vested in a conviction despite any facts and enthusiastically embarked on a crusade to destroy the life of _____ using her powers as an agent of the government.

Rather than issuing a subpoena to verify the age of Ms. Lupes, AUSA Jenifer Yois Hernandez-Vega demanded that the adult porn actress personally appear in court. Ms. Lupes had to fly from Venezula to testify in Puerto Rico.

After hearing testimony and examining her passport, the trial court ordered the prosecutor to dismiss the charges.

Anyone with even a hint of humility would have questioned whether they exceeded their authority and backed off in order to avoid embarrassing herself and her office, but federal prosecutor Hernandez-Vega persisted far beyond the limits of credibility to the point of malicious harassment, if not an outright assault disguised as due process.

And the ending is the saddest part of the:

Although the innocent man spent two months in jail before being able to make bail, Jenifer Yois Hernandez-Vega will not even be given a reprimand. She’ll continue in her unethical ways, and there’s nothing anyone will do to stop her.

As long as the public blindly encourages an aggressive steamroller approach to law enforcement, where career building completely overshadows even the pretense of justice, this kind of behavior on the part of prosecutors will continue. The American public has gone from erring on the side of innocence to wholesale incarceration and “letting god sort them out”.

Welcome to the Sex Hysteria Hall of Shame, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenifer Yois Hernandez-Vega.


TX - Former police officer (James Robert Clayton) sentenced for having child porn

Original Article

05/04/2010

By JASON TRAHAN

A 59-year-old Mesquite man who served about three decades as a police officer in Highland Park and Plano was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Monday after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.

James Robert Clayton pleaded guilty in December to one count of receipt of child pornography for acquiring and storing more than 350 illegal images on his home computer.

Clayton could not be reached for comment on Monday.

In December 2007, an undercover Plano police officer working on an FBI task force downloaded child pornography from Clayton's computer.

In May 2008, agents served a search warrant at his home and found more images, some of which depicted prepubescent children as well as sadistic or masochistic conduct, authorities said.

Clayton was a Highland Park officer from 1973 and 1978 and served on Plano's force from 1979 until 2004, authorities said.

U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay in Dallas released Clayton Monday and ordered him to report to prison by July 6. The judge also ordered that Clayton register as a sex offender and be on supervised release for life after his term.

In February, a magistrate judge gave Clayton permission to travel to Plano to have supervised visits with his daughter and grandchildren. Court documents say at the time that Clayton was working part time for a company that makes rubber stamps.


IL - Sex offender public park ban bill goes to governor

Original Article

See this article. Notice this crime was in 1960 (48 years ago) but they got to dredge it up to fear-monger!

05/03/2010

Passed by state lawmakers, legislation that would ban convicted sex offenders from stepping foot in any public Illinois parks now awaits Gov. Pat Quinn's (Contact) signature.

The legislation, sponsored by State Sen. Kirk Dillard (Contact), R-Hinsdale, prevents all sexual predators and child sex offenders from being in or loitering within 500 feet of a public park.
- So what about sex offenders who are not predators or child sex offenders? I am willing to bet it affects them as well. I am not sure if this is the correct bill, but it does mention public parks and that it affects ALL sex offenders.

Illinois currently prohibits sex offenders from being in or loitering within 500 feet of public recreational areas when children are present. The new legislation would keep make it a crime to be near or enter a park at any time.

"Sexual offenders don't need to be hanging around public parks where there are lots of kids and lots of people walking or running alone," Dillard said recently in a press release. "Unfortunately, we've seen some terrible tragedies in public parks. We need to keep these individuals out of areas where there is often limited oversight by law enforcement officers, as well as surroundings that offer seclusion."

In the release, Dillard referred to the March 14, 1960, attack and murder of three Riverside women in Starved Rock State Park, calling the crime a "sexual assault."
- So, was it by a KNOWN sex offender? And hell, it's over 48 years old, come on!

_____, the man convicted of one of the murders and now serving a life prison sentence, has never been charged or brought to court on any sex offense.
- Yep, like I thought!  He was not a known sex offender.

If signed by the governor, the new law would make the violation a Class A misdemeanor and boost any subsequent violation to a Class 4 felony.


AL - As usual, a person is running for governor, so out come the "for the children politics!"

Original Article
For the children politics

He's running for Governor, so in the typical fashion, out comes the sex offender issues, like clockwork!

Beginning Monday, the Tim James campaign will be launching a new television ad calling for convicted sex offenders to report in person to authorities every 90 days.

Tracking the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders who have been freed from prison is critical to protecting the people of Alabama, especially children, according to James. To enforce this stepped up surveillance of sex offenders, the State of Alabama must be prepared to support state and local authorities, he added.

As in the past four weeks of James’s television advertising campaign, the current ad will appear in media markets across Alabama on both broadcast and cable channels.

You may be interested to know the following about sex offenders in Alabama.

Current sex offenders listed in metro areas:
  • Birmingham 997
  • Montgomery 659 (includes approx 40 in prison/jail)
  • Mobile 610
  • Huntsville 289
  • Tuscaloosa 191
  • Dothan 114

Background Information on Sex Offenders
  • 60% of sex offenders are on parole or probation
  • 2/3’s of the victims of sexual offenders are under 18 years old

(1997 study by Department of Justice/ Bureau of Justice Statistics)

A 2003 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics focused on 9,691 sexual offenders released on parole or probation by 15 states in 1994. These inmates accounted for approximately two thirds of all sexual offenders released nationally that year. The study’s findings include: (As usual, the "statistics" below are taken out of context, see the actual study here)
  • On average, approximately 45% of the original sentence was served (3½ of 8 years).
  • After release, sex offenders were four times more likely to be re-arrested for another sex-related offense than other inmates released whose crimes were not sex-related. (Taken out of context)
  • 38% of those released were re-arrested for sex crimes within three years. (Taken out of context)

Video Link


KS - Church counsels women addicted to porn

Original Article

05/03/2010

By John Leland

‘This is going to be the next wave,’ one youth pastor says

LENEXA - It was the final session for the women at Westside Family Church’s Victory Over Porn Addiction group, and the youngest member, a 17-year-old named Kelsie, had not had a good week.

I slipped two nights this week,” she said, to nods of support from the other women in the group.

I decided that every time I’m tempted I’ll just let everything out to God,” she said, “then pray specifically for someone else, do selfless acts, to get away from being selfish.”

The group’s leader, Crystal Renaud, offered gentle counsel. “Pray for yourself, too,” she said.

To the wide array of programs offered by evangelical megachurches like Westside, the group adds what Ms. Renaud says is something long overdue. While churches have addressed pornography use among the men in their congregations and among the clergy, a group for women who say they are addicted to pornography is new territory, she said.

In the Christian culture, women are supposed to be the nonsexual ones,” said Ms. Renaud, who also runs an Internet site called Dirty Girls Ministries, choosing the name to attract people searching for pornography. “It’s an injustice that the church is not more open about physical sexuality. God created sex. But the enemy has twisted it.”

'I wasn't able to get enough'
Ms. Renaud, who is taking a DVD course in sexual addiction counseling from the American Association of Christian Counselors, said she started the group and the Web site based on her own experiences. She became interested in pornography at age 10 after finding a magazine in her brother’s bathroom. After that, she said, “I wasn’t able to get enough of it.”

At school I wanted to go home and look at it more,” she said. “Then I went online. I’d stay late at the library to look at it. Eventually I got into masturbation, phone sex, cybersex.” She also cracked the code on the family’s satellite television service, she said. “That was my life for eight years.” Then, she said, she met a Christian woman who helped her stop.

The Victory Over Porn Addiction workshop, which Ms. Renaud started in 2008, is the smallest of small groups. Last week’s graduation ceremony, the end of a nine-week curriculum, had three members.

But Ms. Renaud is nothing if not entrepreneurial, tapping the networking possibilities of the Internet and Christian conferences — for women, for sex addicts, for church speakers and for parachurch groups. “So much of it these days is being able to be viral,” she said. “I use Facebook, Twitter, e-blasts to get traffic to the site. You get people to do your marketing for you.”

In May she plans to attend a three-day seminar in Las Vegas called Launch 501c3, for Christians who want to start nonprofit organizations. The founder of Launch 501c3 is Craig Gross, a youth pastor who in 2002 helped start a Web site called XXX Church, one of the first ministries for pornography users. For Ms. Renaud, XXX Church is a model for building her ministry.

After a cool reception in the early years, 200,000 to 250,000 unique visitors now view XXX Church’s site each month, and its free Internet monitoring software, X3, is downloaded 500 times a day. And Mr. Gross and others in the group have paid speaking engagements most weekends. A 30-day online workshop sells 100 copies a month, at $99 each, Mr. Gross said. About 20 percent of the buyers have been women, he said.

Michelle Truax, the event planner for Fireproof Ministries, which includes XXX Church, said that when churches asked for programs directed at men, she suggested that they also consider programs for women.

But Mr. Gross said: “The problem is, most churches have male leadership, and if you want to pitch an event like that, they’ll say, ‘Our women don’t struggle with that.’ This is going to be the next wave, but you’re going to get a lot of blank stares. ‘Really? Come on, this isn’t a big deal.’

Healthy sexuality
The programs at Ms. Renaud’s group and at XXX Church diverge from secular sexual theory by treating masturbation and arousal as sins rather than elements of healthy sexuality. Emphasis is on recovering “sexual purity,” in which thoughts of sex outside marriage are illicit.

Ms. Renaud uses weekly assignments from a sexual addiction workbook called “L.I.F.E. Guide for Women,” which emphasizes prayer, Christian fellowship and the use of “accountability partners” to hold the users to high standards of abstinence.

Chanel Yeary, 19, said that she had considered a secular therapist but that it was too expensive. Besides, she said, therapy when she was younger had little benefit. “With a shrink you have to pay her to be there,” she said. “Here, with my accountability partner, I know she’ll be there for me.”

Michele L. H., 27, who spoke on the condition that her last name not be used out of respect for her husband and son, said Ms. Renaud’s group had helped her stay in her marriage. When she was young, she said, relatives sexually abused her and made her look at pornography as instruction in how to behave. As an adult she needed pornography to be aroused with her husband, she said.

I’m learning the correct way of intimacy and bonds,” she said of the group. “It’s learning what your spouse wants, his needs.” In her first weeks, she recalled, she struggled to avoid masturbation.

She’ll text me with loophole questions,” Ms. Renaud said. “I’ll say, ‘No, it doesn’t work that way.’

But I need to release myself,” Michele said.

I’ll say, ‘O.K., pray about it,’ ” Ms. Renaud said. She added, “Distraction is a big part of recovery.”

Graduation ceremony
Kelsie, the 17-year-old, also agreed to speak on the condition that her full name not be used. She said that she had been taught secular views about masturbation, but that Ms. Renaud’s way made more sense.

She added: “You have to take into consideration what’s best for the one you’re going to be with. Say someday I’m married and my husband can’t please me as much as I please myself. That’d be terrible.”

For the graduation ceremony, Ms. Renaud passed out balloons and asked the group to write down the things they were giving up. Out came the bad stuff: Porn, Masturbation, Lustful Thinking, Cutting, Feeling Useless, Dad’s Bad Choices, Self-Gratification, Self-Mutilation, Unhealthy Thoughts.

They finished by popping the balloons and hugging. Ms. Renaud allowed that the culture’s forces were against them.

This group should be much larger, but they’re afraid to come forward,” she said. Even after seven years without pornography, she told the group, looking at it too long it might attract her. Recently, she said, she watched “Titanic,” including the nude scene, without a relapse.

Kelsie seemed to draw inspiration from Ms. Renaud’s story. “It’s a cool thing to be able to say, ‘I’ve overcome sexual addiction,’ ” she said. Then she added, “I want to get there.”